Survey reveals gaps in public’s knowledge of contesting a will

A new survey has revealed significant gaps in the public’s knowledge of contesting a will, especially for those in younger age groups.

The survey, conducted by JMW Solicitors, revealed that while 86% of Britons aged 45-59 have a basic understanding of contesting a will, just 55% know the specific grounds necessary to contest a will, and only 36% are aware of the time limit associated with the contesting process. Furthermore, only half (50%) of this age group has a will.

The lack of knowledge surrounding wills and probate means that this segment of the population is particularly vulnerable to incurring increased costs when dividing their estates, said JMW.

The firm added that increased taxation due to lack of planning as well as a greater potential for a contentious probate process could create unnecessary costs for loved ones of the deceased.

Among respondents aged 60-74, the survey shows a greater grasp of the probate process, with 73% having a will and 90% understanding what contesting a will means. However, a significant proportion (43%) don’t know the required grounds to contest a will, and 62% are unaware of the time limit for contesting a will.

Of Britons aged 75 or over, 88% have a will and 75% know what contesting a will means – but 60% do not know the grounds for contesting a will and 85% do not know the time limit to do so.

The youngest respondents to the survey showed the least knowledge of the wills process. Among those between 18-29 years, only 24% of respondents have a will, yet 72% know what contesting a will means. A notable 58% are uninformed about the grounds for contesting a will and 50% about the time limit.

Alison Parry, Head of Wills Disputes at JMW Solicitors said:

“These results highlight the need for accessible education about wills and probate across all age groups, as it can have legal and financial impacts.

A lack of planning, for example, can lengthen the costs incurred by the process of contesting a will, placing additional, unnecessary financial burden.

Our mission is to ensure that individuals are equipped with the essential knowledge to make informed decisions about their legal rights and potential inheritances.”

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